Saturday, August 27, 2011

Breathing: The Best Tool in Your Toolbox

Good gloomy Saturday morning!  I'm sitting here in peaceful, tranquil (for the moment) Boxford, Massachusetts.  Marc and I are visiting his family and our visit has just been extended by two days to make way for angry Irene!  I hope our home and our city is safe, but it surely is nice to be surrounded by green, peace, and quiet for a few extra days.

Simple post today - I just wanted to write about something a new (to me) yoga instructor said last week.  I went down to Bikram Park Slope with my wonderful cousin, who is doing a 30-Day Bikram Challenge.  This woman, Robin, was so inspirational, fun, and funny.  She even left us little vegan blueberry muffins on our mats after class!  One of the best Bikram classes I have ever attended, hands down.

She does a lot of talking in the 90 minutes, as do most Bikram teachers.  The dialogue (or monologue, technically) is partly there to keep you engaged in the present so your mind doesn't get a chance to ask you what on earth you're doing in such a hot, disgusting room.  I could have listened to her talk for another 90 minutes, easy.

She said something that I know I've heard before, but in such a way that it resonated with something different in me.  Isn't it so amazing - and often a little annoying, she said, that the cure to most of our emotional distress at any given moment, is right here within us?  All we have to do is adjust our breath.  It's infuriatingly simple and often sounds trite, but it's the truth.  She gave us a mini homework assignment (or would have if we were capable of writing) to notice how often you hear someone tell someone else to breathe.  Whether that person is angry, upset, perhaps worried that a hurricane will damage their apartment or city...the first thing you will tell them is to take a breath.

Beyond that, notice your own breath when you get in those states.  When I cry my breath is shallow, short, and very jerky.  When I'm trying not to cry I hold it a lot.  It's very hard to have long, slow, full breath when you're angry or sad - your body physiologically just can't really support both states at the same time.

So go ahead, notice it.  We're going to need something fun to do if the power goes out!  Take slow, deep breaths, whatever comes, and you can weather this and any other storm with your own internal strength.

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